How I Use It
I used this product as an introduction activity; the students were allowed to openly explore any applications or articles of their choice.
I used the NYTimes Op-Docs application, which is set up easily by entering your phone number; this then sends a small link to your phone which sets up the application. The application itself looks like a multimedia version of a newspaper, with various video article experiences on assorted topics.
The first experience I chose was entitled “Notes on Blindness” which is described as such: After he went blind, John Hull used sound to rediscover our rich sensory universe.” I had trouble seeing some of the text and it was hard to align and keep on my face, although at least some of these issues were part of the “blindness” experience. Also, light seemed to drown out a lot of the definition of the picture. A better viewer with appropriate adjustment and size controls might help to alleviate this issues. The video consists of a “blind man” experience where you can view a dim, neon lit image of a field with a few massive trees in the background. The narrator speaks to you and explains how sound and dim images help assist the blind in basic everyday tasks of movement and identification. It was certainly an immersive experience, and emulated the experience of blindness in an illuminating fashion, although the cardboard technology itself did not permit me to enjoy it fully.
Next, I watched “Policing in Flint“: a video detailing the everyday experiences of police officers in a depressed American industrial town. The experience is kind of like a documentary. It starts out with the customary title scenes. Once again, I had trouble with the lighting. The first shot is intentionally dark to show the struggles of police officers trying to identify and analyze difficult situations, however, I could make out very little in the image to navigate the initial scenes. I turned up the brightness of my Iphone and it helped a bit. The video follows police officers as they traverse the dangerous territory of Flint. Both of these experiences were great in their ability to transport the student to a foreign location, as well as in their ability to experience someone else’s reality.
Finally, I watched “Meditation Journeys: Meditate by the Ocean:”. This video was the most successful, because it utilized bright colors and scenery of the ocean. It was easy and relaxing to watch and you can look at a full panoramic of the scene given. It also includes narration by an expert at meditation, as he gives you tips and tricks on how to relax to the fullest extent.
The NY Time Op Ed is an imperfect application for some of the articles and experiences, but many of these problems could be alleviated by having a quality VR Headset. The interactive and immersive character of the program absolutely can be used for various types of students and learning scenarios. I am excited to see where this app and the technology moves into the future, despite some of my reservations about the quality of the actual videos.